Social media platforms are an essential part of our society. Millions of people use websites and apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat every day. Most people even get their news from social media platforms. Due to the skyrocketing popularity of social media websites, it is no surprise that people use them to commit crimes.
There are several new types of crimes that are unique to social media, while others are simply adapted to these new platforms. Here are a few of the most common forms of criminal activities that take place on social media accounts.
1. Performance crimes
The accessibility of social media makes it possible for anyone to communicate messages to large groups of people. Social media also feeds off of celebrity culture. This has resulted in the rise of “performance crimes,” which are illegal activities that people partake in and broadcast via social media. Some people post videos of themselves committing crimes or bragging about crimes, post-crime footage or pre-crime confessions. Common performance crimes include “the knockout game,” ghost riding and violent attacks.
2. Harassment, threats and cyberbullying
Bullies can commit crimes almost anonymously behind a computer or phone screen. Social media sites are often used as vehicles for harassing, threatening and bullying others. Just because these actions take place virtually does not make them any less serious. Credible threats made via social media can result in criminal punishments.
3. Hacking, fraud and identity theft
These offenses have been around for a long time, but they are taking new forms on these platforms. Breaking into social media accounts that belong to others is a widespread problem. Additionally, creating fake accounts to deceive people or impersonate others is also common. Tricking or defrauding others via social media may be punishable by law.
Social media has changed how crimes are committed, investigated and understood. It is vital to stay smart when using social media sites.